Simon Bridges has been leader less than a year. Is it fair that he's carrying the can for National's culture? (Getty Images)

The Bulletin: How deep will National culture review go?

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: National party orders internal culture review, international students claim they’re being treated like slaves, and CHCH faces water restrictions or more chlorine.

The National Party has ordered a review into its internal culture, focused on ensuring women feel safe within the party, reports the NZ Herald. It follows allegations that MP Jami-Lee Ross harassed and abused women within the party, with party leader Simon Bridges saying that while he doesn’t think the party has issues with its culture, there needs to be an assurance that it is the best it can be. He’s been leader for most of a year now, and says he was unaware previously of the conduct of Mr Ross.

But that’s really just one area the events of last week threw out as potential areas to investigate. Editor of The Spinoff Toby Manhire has suggested 17 questions it could get into. One key one that jumps out is around the behaviour of Jami-Lee Ross since entering parliament since 2011. He was after all the party’s whip, a position that involves bending caucus to the leader’s will. What tactics did he use – known or otherwise – to achieve this goal and rise up the ranks? Mr Ross has alleged that he was directed to carry out all sorts of underhanded actions by multiple leadership groups. That could simply be characterised as politics, or alternatively as something more toxic.

Some would argue that National has had culture reviews in recent years, conducted by Nicky Hager and published in the form of books. And key characters from one of those books Dirty Politics, including strategist Simon Lusk and blogger Cameron Slater, have featured in the events of the last week. Now, a source familiar with the workings of the National party informs me that the internal importance of figures like Mr Slater and Mr Lusk is overstated, and that many in the party actively shun them. But their support of Mr Ross should still be noted, given the backstory.

The National party though also remains a genuine community institution in many parts of the country, and has produced some of the wisest parliamentarians of the modern age. For example one of those MPs, Chris Finlayson, was mentioned in the now-infamous tape recording between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross. Conservative columnist Liam Hehir paid tribute to the soon-to-retire Finlayson on Stuff as a genuine public servant, and someone that the National party is capable of bringing through to the highest echelons of parliament.

One person who could end up the fall guy is party president Peter Goodfellow. He’s potentially for the chop, over claims reported by Politik that he failed to tell the leadership or even party board members of a harassment claim made against Mr Ross. Mr Goodfellow maintains that everyone involved in the situation wanted their privacy maintained.

Meanwhile, Jami-Lee Ross has been released from the mental health care facility he was in, reports Newshub. He is understood to be no longer in Auckland. Mental health advocates Changing Minds have released a useful statement explaining exactly ‘being sectioned’ involves, in an effort to “create more thoughtful conversations around mental health.” It’s well worth reading for a full understanding of the process.


International hotel management students say they’re being overworked, underpaid, and threatened with deportation, reports Newshub. They’ve been brought to New Zealand by Wellington company Internship New Zealand, and then put to work as housekeepers. They say they’ve been instructed to change their time-sheets to effectively dock their own pay, and that if they complain they’re told they’ll be kicked out. Suffice to say, that’s all illegal.


Christchurch residents are being given a choice – conserve water or face more chlorination, reports The Press. Chlorination has been a hugely controversial issue in the city, both deeply unpopular and probably necessary. The Council say they’ll start by asking people politely to conserve water, and if that doesn’t work, they’ll impose restrictions.


The moves in the latest Colmar Brunton One News poll have been small, but have further opened up the government’s lead over the opposition. Labour and its allies now command 57% public support, compared to 42% for National. Some may argue that National’s 2% drop was actually a better than expected result, because the poll was conducted last week – their worst by far of the current term. Toby Manhire (again) has also analysed the bleakness of the personal results for Simon Bridges.


Auckland’s supply of new housing might finally be keeping up with growth in demand, reports Interest. Unfortunately, that doesn’t change the fact that there’s also a massive backlog of unmet demand to be overcome. The changes are partly being driven by a slowing of population growth, with lower levels of net migration.


For those following the developments around the possibility of Radio NZ getting a TV channel (to paraphrase the plans) this is a useful update. The NBR (paywalled) reports that new broadcasting minister Kris Faafoi isn’t ruling the plan in our out at this stage, but is looking closely at the changing habits of audiences. But he says his primary concern is getting more local content on air.


Prominent Māori leader Sir Ngātata Love has died, reports Māori TV. He is being remembered as a complex figure, with both his immense contributions and public service remembered alongside his recent conviction for defrauding his iwi. National MP Nuk Korako says it is customary to remember to mark the entire life of a person when they die, not just the high-profile sins.


From our partners, World Energy Day has put a spotlight on New Zealand’s sluggish progress towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Vector’s Beth Johnson explains why the time is right to accelerate.


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In episode three of Get It to Te Papa, Hayden Donnell valiantly campaigns to get the Deka sign to Te Papa.

Right now on The Spinoff: David Hall offers a rebuttal to Danyl Mclauclan’s controversial recent piece about climate change action. Business editor Maria Slade dives deep into a family feud over the inheritance of the Nobilo winemaking family, and what it says about Trusts law. Dejan Jotanovic writes about the problem Married at First Sight has with masculinity. And Hayden Donnell writes about the story behind the story of episode 3 of Get it To Te Papa – this one is about the Huntly Deka sign.


Today’s feature touches on the changes in the way the labour market works in the creative sector. Which is a dry way of saying, a lot of young people in their dream fields are voluntarily running themselves into the ground to make a career they love work out. (I can relate) It comes from The Outline, and covers the stories that have come out recently about the 100-hour weeks workers were putting in to get the new big-budget Red Dead Redemption video game out. Here’s a key excerpt that underlines the point:

“The game industry took this lesson and twisted it to perverse extremes. When Houser says that “additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work [100 hour weeks],” many have assumed that he’s simply lying, or diagnosed those employees who spoke in support of Rockstar with Stockholm Syndrome.

But I’m inclined to take them at their word, which scarcely makes the situation less horrifying. What many takes about RDR2’s labor woes miss is that crunch persists not just because of bloodsucking managers trying to extract as much labor as they can through whatever forms of control they have at their disposal (though they don’t help). The other, more sobering side of the story is that many of us now expect to find work we love, and that, for those of us lucky enough to have found it, we will work ourselves half to death. (That goes for games journalists and academics too, by the way). In a sense, by demanding meaningful work, we got exactly what we asked for — just not, perhaps, what we really desired.”


This is a ridiculous but funny article from a Fox Sports employee in Australia who ended up playing a game of club cricket against David Warner. He’s currently working out his ban from the international game in obscurity, so how is he going about playing his cricket? Well, he’s still winning the mental disintegration battles, if this piece is anything to go by. The author was absolutely rattled.


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